Dark Castle Haunted Attraction – Full Review

Dark Castle Haunted Attraction is a Haunted Attraction located in Elgin, SC.

2076 Hwy Church Road, Elgin, SC 29045
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple Haunts1EscapeRoom1HauntedTrail


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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Optional Games/Midway, Movie Characters, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on October 5, 2019 by Team Jefferson Starship.

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Final Score: 8.53

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Not far from the I-20 and Elgin sits the Dark Castle (DC). The crew at DC is back again this year with their trio of attractions ‘ the Dungeon of Darkness (DD), the Terror Trail (TT), and the Zombie Zone (ZZ). As with previous years, visitors are able to purchase tickets separately for each of these events or combo tickets that include any combination of the attractions.

Each of the attractions at Dark Castle are separate and distinct. Though we’ve averaged the ratings across the event, it is worth noting for those who have never been to DC that these three attractions have slightly different intended audiences. The Zombie Zone is the friendliest in terms of accessibility for families with children. It is essentially an interactive zombie survival scenario split into two parts ‘ a zombie hunt with low-powered paintball guns, and the search of a facility armed only with small foam hand-weapons. The Dungeon of Darkness ramps up the intensity as visitors venture on a mostly guided tour behind the Castle’s walls. Consider DD to be somewhere akin to a PG-13 movie ‘ there are some scares and some gruesome sights. The Terror Trail, however, is basically an R-rated show ‘ a fully guided outdoor trail through a ‘dimension of horror’ that is spiced with a great deal of adult humor and more than a few scares. If the mix of comedy, horror, and a bit of physical activity is as appealing to you, dear reader, as it is to us, then the Dark Castle is the place to visit in central South Carolina.

Cast: 8.75

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Our visit to DC coincided with what was finally a break in the oppressively hot weather, but also just after a fresh rainstorm swept through the area. The rain likely had an impact on things, but the staff at DC worked admirably to handle it.

The Zombie Zone was impacted a fair bit by the weather. The first part of the zombie hunt takes place outside and the wet and damp resulted in perhaps a slight reduction in the fast zombies stalking the trail ‘ but they rallied well enough at the end to send one of our members running for safety while leaving another behind to become a zombie herself.

The Dungeon of Darkness has a great variety of characters locked within. A number of these are recognizable figures from pop culture shows and movies, whereas others are more traditional. The Terror Trail outside too has a mix of characters ‘ from a twisted version of Hansel and Gretel to the movie It to a battle of wits between a circus clown ringmaster and Malificent.

Most of the characters in DD and TT put on a bit of a theatrical show as we visited each of their scenes. However, the stars of all three shows were the guides who accompanied us on our journey. Each of the three shows has a pair of guides and these unique characters stole the show. They are witty, charming, funny, and always ready with a quip or joke that made us laugh or tip us into nervous anticipation.

DD: 8.8 TT: 9 ZZ: 8.76

Costuming: 8.43

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There are very few masks to be found at Dark Castle. Instead, what must be a skilled group of makeup artists craft a separate and distinct look for each of the characters spread across the haunt. Even the bevy of clowns found down in the TT are each individualized and discrete. Further, many of the costumes scattered on the bodies around the shows are unique and seem to be hand-crafted and original creations. The denizens of the ZZ are a bit generic ‘ they manage to pull off zombie horde well enough, but it would have be nice to see some of the detail that went into the unique costumes of the TT (for example) used for the zombies as well. However, there was at least one zombie roaming about barefoot! Whether that was a bit of intentional costuming or just a daring bit of bravery, we’ll never know.

DD: 8.75 TT: 8.64 ZZ: 7.93

Customer Service: 8.83

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Dark Castle, once known as the Dark Knight’s Terror Trail some years back, is easy to find and just a short jaunt off the interstate. The building has clear signage out front, and the waiting areas within are all clearly marked. The lingering drizzle after the rainstorm made it hard to see some of the internal signs from a distance, but there are plenty of non-costumed staff within the attraction to guide visitors to their next choice of entertainment. Too, the various costumed and in-character guides occasionally ventured out into the open area between escorting victims. They all stay in-character even while answering questions about where to go and what to do. The waiting area tends to default to family friendly, so if a guest is bringing younger family to hunt zombies, for example, they shouldn’t need to worry about things bleeding out from the more adult shows on site (with the exception of some chainsaw chases, of course).

Information about DC can easily be found online as well as information about their additional on-site escape rooms and break room attractions.

All of the DC attractions involve a bit of walking and occasionally a quickened pace. Since parts of the attractions are outdoors, we found it good to be aware of where we were walking. However, there are almost always one of the guides nearby, often with a flashlight to help show the way.

The staff at DC care about their customers, and not just their fears! We arrived just after a rainstorm swept through the area. Though we were a little worried that the outdoor portions might not be running, we found that DC had an internal waiting area ‘ out of the weather ‘ where they were showing a movie to all of the guests who had been on site when the rain hit. This waiting area, also staffed by the Dark Knight himself, stayed open and running the movie until not only the rain passed but until the various outdoor portions were ready to start going again.

Atmosphere: 7.9

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The exterior of the Dark Castle is decorated to resemble a castle which can be a little hard to discern in the darkness. Inside the attraction’s waiting area, there is a bit of a festive feeling. The addition of some Halloween d������cor was a nice touch this year and the waiting area for the TT has been similarly updated. Music occasionally drifts through the air from near the ticket booth, and a firepit beckons from outside the concession stand’s porch. While the exterior doesn’t have the same spooky feel as some haunts, the real fun lies behind the various walls and woods of DC.

Special Effects: 8.4

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Dark Castle builds a lot of their own props ‘ from large sets that loom overhead to smaller pieces like strange specimens in bubbling jars. Because the majority of these are all built in-house, they are unique examples that visitors simply will not see anywhere else. Even when replicating scenes and props from literature, television, and movies, it appeared that many of the props in DD and TT were unique to DC. The ZZ fell a little shy of the high standard set by the other parts of the haunt but given that it’s props are ones that scores of visitors handle and roughhouse all while being pursued by zombies, it is also understandable.

Much of DC could be considered a low-tech haunt. There aren’t a lot of springing animatronics or elaborate technical pieces. At the same time, there are some physical constructions that deliver scares in interesting ways.

DD: 8.4 TT: 8.48 ZZ: 8.44

Theme: 8.12

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It is hard to nail down a single theme across all of the Dark Castle’s attractions without being somewhat abstract. DD and TT both range across a wide variety of scares and scenes drawn from a wide variety of sources. So much so that it’s easier to say that neither of them has a single unifying theme besides horror and comedy inspired entertainment.

However, the ZZ aims a body-shot right into zombie-apocalypse scenarios and scores a direct hit. The adrenaline shot of peering into the darkened woods to spot lurking zombies while trying to listen for any tell-tale rustling that is not coming from your own group is a great bit of fun. The tense exploration of an abandoned medical facility to find a cure right after only builds on the entertainment. We found it easy to imagine ourselves in the middle of our own little zombie apocalypse movie after visiting the ZZ.

DD: N/A TT: N/A ZZ: 8.12

Scare Factor: 8.26

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Dark Castle is all about entertainment. If they can’t scare you, then they work hard to make you laugh. Sometimes, we found ourselves laughing at others in our group, sometimes we were just laughing at the scenes around us. Like a good movie, the crew works to intersperse moments of tension that build up to scares with moments of levity and excitement. This not only aids in building up distractions for jump scares but can also serve to create feelings of unease.

The ZZ has perhaps the most visceral scares as each ends with what amounts to being chased by a horde of zombies. This isn’t a zombie-shoot where visitors are safe in a wagon or on a stand, but instead an up-close and in your face zombie experience that is geared towards fun and excitement. The DD has what most folks would consider traditional haunted house scares ‘ jumps, startles, and the occasional gore-splattered set. The TT uses adult humor to present a variety of creepy scenes where the punch-line almost always ends with the visitors (one, some, or all) being the intended victim of whichever creepy denizen the guide has lead them to.

DD: 8.18 TT: 8.18 ZZ: 8.18

Entertainment & Value: 9.02

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Dark Castle really works hard to pack in as much entertainment as they can. They provide a variety of pricing options and choices across a broad spectrum so that visitors can tailor their evening to their budget.

A single attraction from the Dungeon of Darkness, the Terror Trail, and the Zombie Zone is only $13. Any two can be visited for $22, and a visitor can do all three for $30. Furthermore, there are two five-minute escape rooms on site; either is $5 or both for $8. Additionally, this year DC has added a RIP room. The cost doubles to $60, but with that a visitor gets admission to all three haunts, the escape rooms, AND a small room behind the scenes where you can get in on the action and trigger a few of the scares inside the DD as other guests go through.

We were able to venture through the DD in just over 12 minutes, spend 13 minutes killing zombies in the ZZ (we were super-fast according to our guides), and 30 minutes out on the TT. Altogether, that comes out to about 55 minutes in the haunted attractions of the Dark Castle. Even with RIP tickets, that’s pricing that matches up with industry standards across the state. With standard admission to all three rooms, we feel that visitors definitely get a great deal on a great deal of entertainment.

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 10 out of 10

Brittany – 10/10October 15, 2022
So much fun! We took my little sister (11). She was so scared she wouldn’t let go of me. Most of …show more their adult humor went right over her head. It was a lot of fun and so different from any haunt we’ve been to. The ticket ladies were super nice as well!

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Past Awards

2022 Awards

Best Recreation of a Movie Scene - Candyman (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

Socko - Matthew Wright (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

2019 Awards

Best Zombies (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

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